It is a common fear most developers, property owners, and managers have. "If I buy this lock, will it be outdated before it even gets installed?" Unfortunately, technology has not helped itself, and the market is weary. But, that was yesterday, and with modern best practices, there are ways to approach technology adoption without having to worry. We discussed this in our podcast this week, and I dive a little deeper into it here.
Here are four common concerns people have when adopting smart lock and access control technology and some tips on how to manage through them:
The technology inside the lock is outdated: Very legitimate concern. Especially from an industry that has historically moved slow and has done a less than stellar job at standardizing. Here are some tips on what you can look for and do:
- Look for and ask your lock manufacturer or supplier how their product and services set you up to be "Future Flexible."
- Stop treating smart locks and access control as a piece of hardware. Look for smart locks and access control partners that embrace their products as a platform or support a wide variety of platforms. The reason this is important is that when a lock or access control system is developed with integration and platforms as a core part of their use case, the product is designed to support it. A lot of what you see on the market are products developed to be stand-alone and are being forced or "highjacked" to be part of a platform. You can tell the difference between purpose-built hardware and afterthought hardware.
- Select products that support the cloud either 100% or even better, in a hybrid fashion (onsite and cloud accessible). This will put you in the best position to be adaptive, flexible, and up to date.
The demand for integrations and IoT involvement: You want to make sure that the lock and access control solution you select has the capabilities to participate in whatever system is popular or needed to support a business case you and your company want to pursue. Here are some tips on what you can look for and do:
- Ask to understand the companies API strategy. Go as far as asking for the documentation yourself. A company that has well-documented APIs is an excellent indicator of how they prioritize flexibility and integrations. It is also a great view of who is going to put you in a better position to say yes down the road. Also, ask them their philosophy and process in integrating with third-party systems. Most won't have the right answer, but some will. Stick with those that do. If they do not have well-documented APIs or answer you with "trust me" or "we prioritize them as they come" - red flag.
Will the residents adopt the technology? The goal here is for the technology to add long term value not only to the owner and operator but the resident. The last thing you want to do is invest in a bunch of money into technology that no one uses or, worse, has a bad experience and then works overtime to avoid it. Here are some tips on what you can look for and do:
- Jump on LinkedIn and Twitter and ask for feedback. Hashtag #multifamily #accesscontrol or #smartlocks, and you will find a very engaged community that will share their experiences.
- There is a difference between gadgets and technology products. Look for brands and partners that balance the gadgets with being a utility. We are no longer in the early days of smart locks and access control. For example, check for fire ratings while at the same time ask for their feature roadmap. As I said earlier, there should be a delicate balance between both safety and fun features.
Installation: Speaking of finding the right partner, one of the least exciting but most critical parts of selecting technology is the installation plan. Installation can make or break everything. Here is a tip on what you can look for and do:
- Ask your manufacturer partners for a list of certified installers. Not just a list of installers but certified. I suggest you make certification levels a specification. Please work with your manufacturers to understand the different certification levels they have and write the appropriate level of requirement into your specification.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to concerns, but the outlook is positive. Technology is maturing, and so is the awareness and adoption of users, which challenges manufacturers, installers, and ecosystems to respond. This climate, in turn, creates a healthy environment for innovation and excellence.
Any other concerns or worries? Let us know, and we will share them next week with feedback and tips on how to address them.